This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Vol. 16 No. 43
R' Leib ben Yosef z"l
Parshas Re'ei (1)
The Place to Sacrifice
(Adapted from R. Bachye, based on
the Gemara in Zevachim, Rashi & the Rambam)
Seeking the Shechinah
"His Shechinah you shall seek and come there" (12:5).
This refers to Mishkan Shiloh, says R. Bachye, where the Shechinah was fixed, as opposed to the Mishkan in the Desert, which was constantly being dismantled and rebuilt, and to the fourteen years that they sacrificed in Gilgol, where there was no proper Mishkan at all, only a Mizbei'ach.
The Menuchah & the Nachalah
"Because you have not yet come to the resting-place (Menuchah) and the inheritance (Nachalah) which Hashem … is giving to you" (12:9).
"Menuchah" refers to Shiloh, based on the following Pasuk, which states "and G-d will give you rest from all your enemies … and you will dwell in safety" (following the seven years of conquest and the seven years of distribution).
"Nachalah" refers to Yerushalayim, so called on account of the Pasuk in Tehilim (94:14) "For G-d will relinquish His people and He will not forsake His inheritance". This in turn, the Rambam explains, refers to the Pasuk "Because G-d chose Tziyon, He desired to dwell there" (Ibid. 132:13), and the Pasuk "For G-d chose for Himself Ya'akov, Yisrael as His treasure" (Ibid. 135:4). Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu, he adds, picked Yerushalayim for His Shechinah to rest, and Yisrael as His treasured nation.
Sacrificing on the Bamos
R. Bachye asks as to why the Torah needs to mention Nachalah (Shiloh)? Surely, he explains, it would have sufficed to write "Because you have not yet come to the resting-place (Yerushalayim)", from which time on the Bamos became forbidden forever? In fact, the Pasuk already mentioned Yerushalayim in Pasuk 5 (as we discussed in Parshah Pearls in volume 14).
The point is this, he explains; in the desert, they were permitted to build Bamos. Indeed, he says, up until the Mishkan was built in the second year, any person who so wished, would bring a sacrifice on his roof. Once the Mishkan was built, Bamos became forbidden, as the Torah writes in Acharei-Mos (17:3/4) "Any man … who Shechts an ox, a lamb or a goat … and does not bring it to the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed … will be cut-off from the midst of his people".
Once they arrived in Eretz Cana'an and came to Gilgal, where they set up the 'Mishkan' (which consisted of the Mizbei'ach and the Keilim from the Mishkan in the desert, but was not contained in a house), Bamos became permitted once again, like they were before the construction of the Mishkan. The reason for this is because the previous Pasuk in Acharei-Mos mentions "outside the camp", from which we learn that at that time, the prohibition of Bamos was linked to the arrangement of the four camps that comprised Machaneh Yisrael. Once that fell into disuse on their entry into Eretz Cana'an, the prohibition of sacrificing on Bamos fell away too.
Fourteen years later, they built a proper stone structure in Shiloh to house the Mishkan. This became known both as the House of G-d (see Shmuel 1. 1:24), and the Mishkan (see Tehilim 78:9). From that moment on, Bamos became forbidden once more, and the Torah inserts 'Menuchah" (Shiloh) here to teach us that it was only then that Bamos became forbidden, but that during the fourteen-year period of conquest and distribution in Gilgal, they were permitted.
For three hundred and sixty-nine years the Mishkan stood in Shiloh, and it was in the time of Eli ha'Kohen that it was destroyed. That was when they again set-up the Mishkan of the desert, first in Nov (the city of Kohanim), then, when Sha'ul Hamelech killed all its inhabitants, in Giv'on. During those two periods, which together lasted fifty-seven years, the Bamos were once again permitted. And it is from the Pasuk " … and to the Nachlah (Yerushalayim)" that we learn both the concession during the period of Nov and Giv'on and the prohibition of building Bamos anywhere, that would come into effect when Shlomoh build the Beis-Hamikdash, and would remain intact until the end of time.
Don't Do this & Don't Do that!
"Don't do that to Hashem … !" (12:4).
"Don't do like all that we are doing here today … " (12:8).
The former Pasuk, R. Bachye (conforming to Rashi's first explanation) refers to sacrificing anywhere ('on the mountains and on the high hills'), like the people of Cana'an used to do - during the era of the Beis-Hamikdash and beyond. The latter Pasuk, on the other hand, refers to the period of the Bamos, on which not everything that was sacrificed in the Beis-Hamikdash could be brought (see Rashi).
* * *
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)
The Individual & the Community
"See, I have placed before you today the blessing and the curse" (11:26).
The commentaries point out that the Pasuk begins with the singular ('Re'ei') and then switches to the plural ('lifneichem'). See Ba'al ha'Turim.
R. Bachye explains that 'See' refers to the root of the blessings and the curses, Midas Rachamim and Midas ha'Din, with which G-d created the world. These are deep concepts that only the wise individual can fully grasp - hence the use of the singular.
The B'rachos and K'lolos themselves however, are something that everybody can perceive, and which instinctively encourage the people to strive to do good on the one hand, and to distance themselves from doing evil, on the other. That is why the Torah uses the singular first and then the plural.
Perhaps we can also attribute the change to the fact that blessings in this world are only due to the community at large, since individuals receive their reward in the World to Come (as is the opinion of R. Ya'akov in the first Perek of Kidushin [39b]). Consequently, the Pasuk is bound to end in the plural tense, and the reason that it writes "Re'ei" in the singular, is because it is up to each individual in the community to strive to do what is right, so that the community will earn the B'rachos that are reserved for them; and if they fail to do so, then the community will have to suffer the curses.
A sign or a Wonder
"And when there will arise among you a (self-professed) prophet and he gives a sign (os) or a wonder (mofeis) … " (13:2).
An 'os' says R. Bachye, citing Rashi, is a sign in the sky, whereas a 'mofeis' is a sign on earth.
See also Seforno.
The Ramban, he says, defines 'Os' as a prediction of something that is destined to happen, whereas a 'mofeis' is the performance of a miraculous event that the Navi causes to happen there and then. In fact, the root of the word 'os' is the Arama'ic word 'oso, which means 'comes' or 'coming'; whereas 'mofeis' (short for 'mufla'as' [wondrous]) is as we find in the Hagadah 'And I will make wonders (mofsim) in Heaven and on earth - blood, fire and pillars of cloud'.
As a matter of fact, he explains, Egypt witnessed both signs and wonders. There were signs, whenever Moshe predicted each impending plague before it actually took place. And there were wonders, whenever he caused them to occur immediately.
Likewise, the Pasuk refers there to Moshe's staff as 'os' , as it constantly served as the harbinger of punishment that was destined to come on Par'oh, yet when the staff actually turned into a snake, the Torah refers to it as 'Mofeis'.
Following in G-d's Footsteps
"Follow Hashem your G-d, Him shall you fear … (13:5).
"Follow Hashem your G-d" … Emulate His Midos (just as He clothes the naked, visits the sick … .
"Him shall you fear" … Not to attempt to understand Him directly, only via His actions.
""Observe His Mitzvos" … This is the written Torah (the Taryag Mitzvos).
" … Listen to His Voice" … This incorporates the oral Torah, which taught by the prophets (as we learn in Pirkei Avos - 'Moshe received the Torah at Sinai, and handed it down to the prophets …' ).
" … Him you shall serve … This refers to Tefilah.
"And in Him you shall cleave … Even whilst tending to your personal matters, your mind should cleave to Him every moment.
Alternatively, you should never want to leave His service, ever! Not like a regular Eved, who longs for his freedom, irrespective of how good and kind his master is to him. Not so G-d, since serving Him is true freedom!
And a third explanation of "in his you shall cleave" is that - if you will emulate G-d's Midos, fear Him, observe both the written Torah and the oral one, and serve Him in prayer, then you will merit to cleave to Him in the World to Come. For cleaving to Him is the ultimate reward in the World to Come (Rabeinu Bachye).
Paying Back a Loan in the Sh'mitah
"And this is the matter/word of the Sh'mitah" (15:2).
R. Bachye, citing Chazal, explains that, once the creditor fulfils this Mitzvah by informing the debtor, who comes to payoff his loan after the termination of the Sh'mitah, that he is meshamet (foregoes) the debt, the debtor is permitted to declare that he nevertheless wishes to pay. Once he does, the creditor is entitled to accept the money without the slightest qualms.
The reason for this, he explains, is because, unlike Ribis, which the Torah forbids the debtor to give, no less than it forbids the creditor to accept, by Sh'mitah, the Torah places no restrictions on the debtor with regard to repaying the loan in the Sh'mitah. In fact, it does not even forbid the creditor to receive payment either. What it does insist is that the creditor does not demand payment.
Consequently, should the debtor insist on repaying his loan, there is no prohibition forbidding him to accept the money.
In fact, says R. Bachye, not only do the Chachamim praise the debtor for insisting on paying following the creditor's declaration 'Meshamet ani!' But if he does not volunteer to pay, they permit the creditor to shame him to induce him to pay.
More about Debt-Cancellation
in the Sh'mitah
(adapted from R. Bachye)
The debtor is also permitted to circumvent the cancellation of the debt in the Sh'mitah, the author states, by declaring that he will not allow the debt to be negated in the Sh'mitah year. He may not however, declare that the Sh'mitah will not negate the debt, since the Torah says that it does, and he does not have a mandate to override a Torah law.
The creditor is permitted to claim his debt until the end of the Sh'mitah-year. This is because, based on the Pasyk "Mikeitz sheva shonim ta'aaseh Sh'mitah"(and "Mikeitz" implies 'at the end').
Once a creditor hands over his document to the Beis-Din, Sh'mitah will no longer cancel his debt, seeing it is as if it has already been claimed in Beis-Din (and is no longer subject to claim).
A debt belonging to orphans does not even require them to hand over their documents to Beis-Din. This is because Beis-Din is considered the father of the Beis-Din, and it is as if their documents are handed over to Beis-Din, even though they are not.
* * *
Highlights from Targum Yonasan
'And all (species of) flies and bees and mites that are found in lentils and beans, that have separated from the food and that fly like a bird, are forbidden to you … ' (14:19).
'All Tahor locusts you are permitted to eat' (14:20).
'You may not eat any animal whose Shechitah was not in order … You are not permitted to cook, and certainly not to eat, meat and milk that have been mixed together (14:21).
'Only, if you will indulge in the Mitzvos of the Torah there will not be among you a poor person … ' (15:4).
'But if you do not indulge in the Mitzvos of the Torah and there will be among you a poor person from one of your brothers … ' (15:7).
'Because as long as Beis Yisrael do not obey the Mitzvos of the Torah, poor people will not cease from the land … ' (15:11).
'And you shall take an awl and pierce it in his ear and in the gateway of Beis-Din … and also to your maidservant you shall write a Get Shichrur (a document of freedom) and give it to her … ' (15:17).
'Be careful to keep the correct times of the festivals, to announce leap-years and to stick to the seasons; To make Pesach in the spring before Hashem, for He took you out from Egypt in the month of the spring, and you shall eat it at night … ' (16:1).
Donning the Tefilin shel Rosh
It is a Mitzvah to don the Tefilin shel Rosh, as the Torah writes in Va'eschanan (6:8) " … and they shall be 'totofos' (frontlets) between your eyes". The author already explained in the previous Mitzvah the meaning of Tefilin, which comprises the four Parshiyos that are written in the Torah, according to the order that they appear there - in Parshas Bo (two Parshiyos), Va'eschanan and Eikev. And that we are obligated to transcribe these Parshiyos on parchment and to place them on our head between the eyes and on our arm, next to the heart. And what singles out these Parshiyos over and above all other Parshiyos in the Torah is the fact that (between them) they contain the acceptance of the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven, the unification of G-d's Name and the Exodus from Egypt. The latter forces us to accept the belief in the creation of the world and the fact that G-d supervises everything that goes on in the world that He created - the two major fundamental beliefs of our religion. That is why G-d commanded us to wear these basic principles all day long between our eyes and next to our heart. For these two limbs, say the experts, house the man's Seichel. So by placing these things on them as a reminder, it will fortify our faith and add an additional reminder about the ways of G-d, granting us the merit to live an eternal life. Some of the Dinim of Tefilin we already discussed above. Here however, are a few differences between the Tefilin shel Yad and the Tefilin shel Rosh with regard to the 'leather' and the stitches … You should know that whereas the 'leather' into which one places the four Parshiyos of the shel yad comprises only one compartment, that into which one places the four Parshiyos of the Tefilin shel Rosh comprises four … Whilst the leather of the Tefilin shel Rosh is still wet, one forms a 'Shin' on both sides of the Tefilin, one with three heads on the right (of the wearer), and one with four heads on the left. … One places the strap of the shel Rosh through a bridge (known as the 'Ma'bo'res') that is built into the section of the 'Bayis' that protrudes beyond the section containing the two Shin's. One then winds part of the strap around the head according to the size of the wearer and forms a knot with the two ends in the shape of a 'Daled'. The shape of this 'Daled' cannot be explained in the form of a drawing but must be taught to one's Talmidim, as is traditionally known to our people. Indeed, this is the 'knot of the Tefilin' which our sages have taught us, that every Talmid-Chacham should be acquainted with. And they listed it together with the other things with which he ought to acquaint himself - 'The script (of a Sofer), Shechitah, Milah, Birchas Chasanim and how to arrange Tzitzis on a garment … The length of the strap of the shel Rosh is sufficiently long to surround the head and form the knot, and for the two ends to reach the navel, or at least that one of them should, and the other end up to the heart … The correct location of the Tefilin shel Rosh (i.e. the Bayis containing the four Parshiyos) is on the spot corresponding to the brain, which is equivalent to the soft spot on a baby's head. This is the traditional interpretation of " … and they shall be Totafos between your eyes". Someone who takes the Pasuk literally and wears the Tefilin shel Rosh between his eyes has negated the tradition (and has not fulfilled the Mitzvah) … The remaining details of the Mitzvah and other matters connected with it, refer to the previous Mitzvah.
* * *